lyric poetry

Gelatin poetics

On Rachael Allen's 'Kingdomland' and the meatspace of contemporary feminist lyric

(Left) Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland; (right) Ventricle, oil-on-canvas by Maria Sledmere.

In Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland, shades of indigo and lilac leak through the pages like milk, in variant continuums of strangeness and shame. There is, however, a kind of “tint” to these poems that evokes not quite the Kristevan abjection of skin on milk, but something more like the translucent surface of a jelly left to slowly rot. 

Everything about you’s a bit like me —
in the same way that North Carolina’s a bit like Ribena
but rhymes with Vagina, which is nearly the same,
but much darker —
brutal and sweet like disease,
sweet as an asphalt dealer.
— Selima Hill, A Little Book of Meat[1]

A review of 'Attributed to the Harrow Painter'

Photo of Nick Twemlow (left) by Michael Marcinkowski.

The poems in Nick Twemlow’s second collection, Attributed to the Harrow Painter, address art as they do adolescence, family, trauma, and addiction: as strokes of what make both the artist and the now-father. The speaker of these poems is in his midlife and the father of a young son, whom he cannot parent without being informed by the forces and relationships that have defined him. The “I” of this collection may ironize or chide the self, but it does not deny that the “self” informs the work in spite of life’s free radicals.

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